Republicans pushing hard for school choice at the state level

School choice is a major issue for Republicans in five different states.


2011 is shaping-up to be a monumental year for school choice. The year kicked-off with big changes in Wisconsin, where in February, Governor Scott Walker broke the union stranglehold on public education and lifted the cap on the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the nation’s oldest voucher program.

In March, Utah passed a statewide online learning program. The Beehive State passed the The Statewide Online Education Program, which allows children in grades 9-12 to take highschool coursework online from public or private providers anywhere in the state. Also in March, in an historic win for low-income children in the nation’s capital, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was restored and expanded, thanks to the leadership of Speaker John Boehner.

In April, Arizona created education savings accounts (ESAs) for special-needs children, who can now receive 90 percent of state per-pupil expenditures in their ESAs, which they can use on a variety of education options, including private school tuition.

And in May, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels enacted the largest school voucher program in the country, which will help an estimated 600,000 children attend a private school of their choice.

Now, children in Oklahoma could soon benefit from a proposed tuition tax credit program. A bill which is headed to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk would provide scholarships to children in low- and middle-income families to attend a private school of their choice. Oklahoma is building on the voucher program for special needs children passed early last year, and is on its way to having one of the most robust education markets in the country.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, Democrat women are trying to push more sex education into the schools, while Republican men try to slow them down.


Bananas and condom races became topics of debate in the Illinois Senate this afternoon, when lawmakers rejected a measure that would have given the State Board of Education new control over sex education.

Under the legislation, schools choosing to offer sex education would be required to teach “medically accurate and developmentally appropriate” curriculum — local districts would choose from a range of material offered by the state board, then parents could review the material and decide whether or not their child should participate.

Republican lawmakers grilled the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, on what would qualified as “age-appropriate” material for the junior high and high school students in question.

State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, asked Steans if materials suggesting “having races by putting condoms on bananas” were suited for sixth-graders.

State Sen. Chris Lauzen, R-Aurora, said he believed adopting the new standards could push parents with “traditional values” to pull their children from public schools.

[…]”This is not just educating them on math and science — this is educating them on an issue that could literally save their lives,” said state Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Plainfield.

The funny thing is that all the evidence shows that increasing sex education actually increases the number of out-of-wedlock births and sexually-transmitted diseases. If we really were serious about stopping out-of-wedlock pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, we would be pushing abstinence education – which is the only thing that is proven to work.

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